Learning from refugees in Lebanon

“I have learnt so much about the refugee situation as well as about myself and I will be using my strength in faith to guide me when sharing about my experience in Lebanon.”

Ryan in Lebanon
Ryan in Lebanon

Ryan Wilkinson is a 19 year old CAFOD volunteer from Sheffield who recently travelled with CAFOD to meet refugees in Lebanon.

My recent visit to Lebanon has had such a large, positive impact on my life and has made me want to encourage others to learn more about the refugee crisis.

It was such incredible experience to meet refugees who Association Najdeh and Caritas Lebanon, the two CAFOD partners that I visited, reach and help in different camps and shelters. Having the opportunity to talk to people who are refugees, and the staff at the organisations was so inspiring for me as it made me think more about my life and how I can do more to encourage change.

There were times during my visit where it left me emotionally drained as I was hearing many emotional stories about what people are going through, and how their lives have changed since moving to Lebanon.

Donate to the Refugee Crisis Apeal

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Meeting refugees in Lebanon

CAFOD volunteer Leah Fox
CAFOD volunteer Leah in Lebanon

Leah Fox is a CAFOD volunteer from Newcastle who has spent the past year working with young people to help them better understand the plight of refugees. She recently travelled with CAFOD to meet refugees in Lebanon who have been forced to leave their homes because of conflict in Syria, Iraq and Palestine.

My overall experience in Lebanon was amazing; I feel extremely privileged to have had an opportunity to go and experience first-hand what life is like in the refugee camps. There was so much to learn and it was great to meet so many different people from many different walks of life.

In the camps we met Syrian and Palestinian refugees who had been in Lebanon for a long time. We also met Palestinian refugees from Syria, who initially moved there because of conflict but are now in Lebanon.

Donate to CAFOD’s Refugee Crisis Appeal

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Great Generation: Speaking at mass

Antonia is a young leader from Sheffield. Here she shares her experience of volunteering with CAFOD, and speaking out for fairness and equality.

‘I really felt as though my talk had reached people. Not only had it raised awareness, it had also raised money and educated people so that they can also speak out for justice and equality.’ – Antonia

antonia-2-1
Antonia (right) speaking at mass for CAFOD

Ever since I was a little girl, I’ve had a passion for helping others. I was always the first one to put money in the charity box or to purchase a wristband and badge at a fundraising stall. My mother has always taught me to be a generous person, and she says that sometimes it’s the smallest actions that can create the biggest impact.

In May I visited my local church in the hope that my small gestures may indeed amount to something much bigger.

Once I had learnt about CAFOD’s World Gifts range and enlightened others through assemblies at school, I felt the urge to spread the message to a wider community. I was amazed at how CAFOD could change so many people’s lives in this way and knew that it was my duty to pass this idea on to others. My initial instinct was to contact my childhood parish and try to organise a five minute slot where I could introduced CAFOD’s work on a deeper level and perhaps encourage others to get involved. Naturally, they had already heard about CAFOD and were more than happy for me to come in and speak to their congregation: I was delighted!

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Great Generation: walking for refugees

Molly is a year 10 student from London who spent part of the summer on work experience with CAFOD in the education team. In this blog she writes about her experience taking a pilgrimage in solidarity with refugees.

“I met so many people with such amazing and inspiring stories of their life, and how they had come to this country wanting safety and peace.” Molly

Lampedusa crosses made by Francisco Tuccio
Supporters across the UK have been carrying Lampedusa crosses on pilgrimages of solidarity with refugees

In May my dad, brother and I walked the 74 mile pilgrimage from London to Canterbury  with 100 other people. The pilgrimage is an annual event which is run by ‘The Connection’ at St-Martin-in-the-Fields church in Trafalgar Square, London, and this year was its 26th pilgrimage.

We started from St Martin-in-the-fields church on the Friday morning and finished at Canterbury Cathedral on the Monday afternoon. The pilgrimage was to help fundraise and raise money for homeless people and refugees around London and in our country, and the pilgrimage was also a chance to have fun and meet new people.

Sign up to march for refugees this Saturday

When I was on the walk I talked to so many new people, including some refugees who  did not have any were to stay, but they go to ‘The Connection’ at St Martins where volunteers give them a place to shower, eat, wash their clothes etc.

Download our pilgrimage for young people

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Step into the Gap – Welcome to the new CAFOD gap year volunteers!

We’d like to introduce and welcome the new team of CAFOD gap year volunteers as they settle into their placements this week. Read on to find out a little bit about the 2016/2017 team as they gear up for a year of volunteering with CAFOD.

The new team of Step into the Gap volunteers
The new team of Step into the Gap volunteers

 

James
James has joined the chaplaincy team at St Mary’s High School, Blackpool

James – St Mary’s High School, Lancaster

Six years ago I would have never had imagined I would be where I am today. I first got involved in CAFOD’s work in 2010 when I was invited to become another parish representative in church. Since that time, I have helped raise over £7,000 and have taken part in numerous rallies and lobbies, including the Enough Food for Everyone IF Rally in 2013 and the ‘Speak up for the Love of’ Lobby of Parliament in 2015.

This year, I hope to use my skills and knowledge at St Mary’s, where I’ll be part of the chaplaincy team, to put my faith into action. We’ll be supporting the college students at St Mary’s and pupils at Christ the King primary school, and will be fundraising and getting students involved in CAFOD’s work.

Explore CAFOD’s resources for primary schools and secondary schools

I am very excited about the opportunities that lie ahead and the stories I will be able to share with students, staff and CAFOD supporters over the coming year.

Continue reading “Step into the Gap – Welcome to the new CAFOD gap year volunteers!”

“For the poor people of Rio, ticket prices for the Olympics are too high”

maristely (800x450)
Maristely, centre, leaning on a water butt at a workshop learning how to conserve water.

Maristely is the narrator of one of our Connect2: Brazil partners. She is currently a student in her final year at university, but alongside her studies she continues to participate in activities to defend the rights of people living in favelas and poor informal settlements with our partner, Movement for the Defence of Favelas (MDF) in São Paulo. Here Maristely talks about the 2016 Olympics taking place in Rio de Janeiro in Brazil this summer.

“On the sporting front, there is anxiety in making sure the Olympic Games take place.  But the way these Games will happen is depressing.

Since the World Cup and the Olympic Games were first announced in Brazil these kinds of mega sporting events were seen as opportunities for improvements in basic infrastructure of the country, but in the preparation process, there has been little space for civil society participation and technical  experts who know about urban development were not involved in the discussions.

Find out about Connect2: Brazil and how your parish can get involved

As the deadline approaches, there is a need for an accelerated release of funds to ensure that the games take place and that the infrastructure is ready. This leads to works that are not ready in time and rushed through quickly, resulting in the removal of poor urban inhabitants from good locations.

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Great Generation: What being part of the Great Generation means to me

Sam at the CAFOD Young leaders celebration day at Romero House.
Sam at the CAFOD Young leaders celebration day at Romero House.

Today is Nelson Mandela Day. In 2005 at the ‘Make Poverty History’ march, Nelson Mandela called young people to be part of a ‘great generation’ to work to eliminate world poverty. Here, Sam reflects on what being part of the ‘great generation’ means to her.

Sam has been a CAFOD Young climate blogger and has just graduated from the CAFOD young leadership training programme.

 

 

 “Sometimes it falls upon a generation to be great. You can be that great generation. Let your greatness blossom.” Nelson Mandela

What excites me the most about this quote is the message of hope behind it.  It encourages young people, like you and me, to actually be the ones who bring about change and transformation in today’s modern world!

Be part of the great generation. Continue reading “Great Generation: What being part of the Great Generation means to me”

Great Generation: Nelson Mandela Day

Francis (right) at the climate march in London.
Francis (right) at the climate march in London.

Today is Nelson Mandela Day. In 2005 at the ‘Make Poverty History’ march, Nelson Mandela called young people to be part of a ‘great generation’ to work to eliminate world poverty. Francis Hillen reflects on what being part of the ‘great generation’ means to him.

Francis is a youth worker at the Kenelm Youth Trust in Birmingham Archdiocese where he supports young people on their faith journey through retreats and outreach work.  He’s the CAFOD ambassador on the team there, championing the inclusion of global justice in the programmes.

“Sometimes it falls upon a generation to be great. You can be that great generation. Let your greatness blossom.” Nelson Mandela

When I think of this quote I think of the power we all have to make a difference or a change. Nelson Mandela is a great example of a man who during his lifetime made a remarkable positive change.

During Mandela’s lifetime we see how the people of Britain were able come together and campaign against the injustice of apartheid and Mandela’s imprisonment throughout the 80s. This most definitely will have gone some way towards his freedom and subsequent election as President of South Africa.  For example the song ‘Free Nelson Mandela’ was written by a group of lads from Coventry, it later became an anthem used by the movement.

In today’s world there are many people who lack freedom and through my work with Kenelm Youth Trust as a gap year volunteer, and as a CAFOD Ambassador, I’ve seen the yearning of young people to make a difference. Children I’ve worked with have written truly sincere messages of hope for refugees and teenagers have offered words of solidarity.

Send a message of hope to refugees. Continue reading “Great Generation: Nelson Mandela Day”

Great generation: My year as a CAFOD young leader

Flavia at the CAFOD young leaders celebration day.
Flavia at the CAFOD young leaders celebration day.

Flavia has been volunteering for CAFOD this year as part of the Young Leadership Programme. She’s had a busy year of fundraising, campaigning and raising awareness in her school of CAFOD’s work and social justice issues that are important to her.

Earlier this year Flavia was nominated for the Dorothy Day award, a Million Minutes award for fostering community participation. Here is an extract from her sixth form leavers’ speech, where she reflected on the journey she’s had in college and with CAFOD over the past twelve months.

My journey began last year when I went on a climate change rally to lobby MPs. At first I wasn’t very interested in the topic, however after going on the rally and understanding the impact that our voice has in the world we live in, it really surprised me that I can make a change. It may not be a massive change, but I learnt very quickly throughout this year that it’s the little things that make the biggest difference.

Download our Olympic resources to explore global justice issues with your youth group, class or group of friends.

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Youth leaders: Get your group ready for the Rio Olympics!

Ahead of Rio 2016, Julia from CAFOD’s Youth Team muses on sport, silly and serious, and suggests easy ways to get your group of friends, youth group and secondary students Rio ready with CAFOD!

Julia from CAFOD's Youth Team finishing the Great South Run.
Julia from CAFOD’s Youth Team finishing the Great South Run.

As a youth leader and teacher I’ve run (and played!) my fair share of silly games. From parachute games with HCPT on the meadow in Lourdes, to 500 rounds of North, South, East, West with Guides. From ten pin bowling with plastic bottles in a Loreto school in India to mini-Olympics with tutor groups. I had to get serious when supporting students with physical disabilities to play Paralympic sport boccia at a regional competition,  as moving the ramp accurately according to the player’s precise instructions meant the difference between victory and defeat.

Download CAFOD Olympic resources for young people

Although not an absolute natural, I love taking part in sport too. Aside from a few (very unexpected) shot-put wins at school sports day (my training one year was to throw bean cans as far as I could in the garden), coastal rowing is the sport I’ve been most involved in. The feeling of a win after a two kilometre sprint was elation, but it was the week in, week out training with friends and sunny days on the South coast at regattas that made it fun.

Continue reading “Youth leaders: Get your group ready for the Rio Olympics!”